All posts by Procurious HQ

Has Amazon identified a niche market in wearable tech?

Where do you stand on wearable gadgets? Internet retailer Amazon is betting big on the niche wearable technology market.

Amazon has launched a specialist storefront dedicated to wearable technology and gadgets.

Google Glass - Amazon launches wearable technology store

Whether it’s activity trackers, smartwatches, heart rate monitors, wearable cameras, or Google Glass-like devices, Amazon has struck upon a particularly fashionable niche…

Amazon’s one-stop-shop for wearable technology has the potential to disrupt –it is after-all a first mover in this new retail space, and as such expect the copycats to follow in their droves…

Wearables on the rise

When it comes to both innovation and appeal, wearables have come a relatively long way in a short space of time. Originally viewed as a passing fad back in 2012, tech plaudits predicted that wearable tech would go the way of 3D. Sure, it’s an interesting space to be in, but could it fuel a sustainable ecosystem over time?

In that same year (2012) wearables accounted for a $2.7 billion spend, with the number expected to reach $8.3 billion by 2018. By that reckoning, wearables are going to be with us for a little longer yet…

Nike+ Fuel Band

At the time of writing, the Amazon store lists over 100 different products. But with wearables expanding into clothing and even skin, Deloitte predicts global sales of wearables will top 10 million during 2014.

In addition, a survey by Accenture indicated that smartwatches appealed to 46% of people polled, whereas Google Glass (or an alternative) attracted 42% of the vote. In total 6000 people were polled.

12 things you need to know this week

What’s been top of the news agenda?

Facebook, Tesla, John Lewis, and the Renault-Nissan alliance have all made headlines, so we’ve gathered all you need to know into one handy weekly news digest. We’re useful like that…

John Lewis (Reading, UK)

Crowdsourcing (UK)

  • One of the UK’s biggest organisations is considering using crowdsourcing for indirect procurement to help drive innovation from suppliers
  • The John Lewis Partnership believes that crowdsourcing can help to identify a very specific problem, issue or opportunity and gives a platform to offer a prize for the best solution

Read more on Supply Management

Top Procurement Challenges

  • An Ardent Partners report has highlighted that the biggest challenge for Chief Procurement Officers in the coming year is staff or talent
  • 57% of CPOs believe that flat headcount, stagnant skills capabilities, and / or greater staff responsibility represent their greatest challenge in 2014

Read more on CPO Rising

Australian Industry Changes

  • A study by IBISWorld has revealed the expected industry patterns for the coming financial year
  • Industries expected to rise over the year include Online Education, Building Societies and Mortgages; industries expected to fall over the year include Grain-sheep or grain-beef cattle farming, Automotive electrical component manufacturing and Petroleum refining and petroleum fuel manufacturing

Read more on IBISWorld

Procurement Relationships (UK)

  • The new CPO of Fujitsu for UK and Ireland, Clive Rees, has stated that the focus of Procurement shouldn’t just be on cost reduction, but on relationship management too
  • He has encouraged his team to be seen at stakeholder meetings, change the way the Procurement function is viewed internally and get more value from internal and external relationships

Global Fraud Survey (UK)

  • EY’s Global Fraud Survey has found that more than one in 10 firms globally have experienced a “significant fraud” in the past two years
  • However, when surveyed, 46 per cent of respondents in the UK said offering entertainment to customers to win or retain business was acceptable

Renault-Nissan alliance. Image Wiki Commons

Procurement Alliances (Europe)

  • The procurement function of the Renault-Nissan alliance has reported savings of €1.036 billion (£824 million; US$1.4bn) savings in 2013
  • The Alliance is looking for further synergies in future, but Purchasing was the biggest contributor for cost reductions, cost avoidance and revenue increases last year

Automotive Industry

  • Tesla are set to become one of the major players in the US automotive industry, according to Morgan Stanley
  • Four states are vying for the right to be home to the company’s US $5bn factory and General Motors have even begun to look at Tesla’s culture and success to see if they can replicate it

Read more at Sourcing Guy Blog

Supply Chain Data

  • An article on Supply Chain 24/7 has assessed how to turn Supply Chain data into actionable information
  • According to the article, there are three main ways to use the data – Reporting, Scorecarding and Benchmarking, each providing different levels of information for the organisation to use

Read more at Supply Chain 24/7

Questioning in Leadership

  • Asking the right questions is a valuable skill for leaders to have, but just as critical is how the questions are asked
  • Asking questions in the right way can engage and motivate people, but equally asking them in the wrong way can create a negative mood or blame culture
  • HBR gives an insight into five questions that leaders shouldn’t ask, and the way that they can phrase these questions to get the best answers

Read more at Harvard Business Review

Business Breakdown

  • Coles has admitted to threatening suppliers with sanction if they refused to pay to take part in a new supply chain program
  • The Federal Trade Commission has accused T-Mobile of illegally earning hundreds of millions of dollars by overbilling customers
  • Europe’s privacy regulators are investigating whether Facebook broke local privacy laws when it conducted a highly criticised social experiment in January 2012

Read more at Spend Matters

Is the UK more risk averse than the rest of Europe?

Paul Smith is trying to define where procurement ends and the rest of the business begins…

Paul Smith YPO

Paul Smith is the procurement and supply director of YPO (the largest public sector buying organisation in England). Previously, Paul has spent 21 years working in the private sector.

Read more about Paul here.

Our #firstmovers series profiles those members who we feel truly embody Procurious, and go to show just how “rich” and global our network is becoming.

Procurious asks: How do you think procurement differs in your country, as opposed to elsewhere in the world?

Paul: I don’t think the fundamentals of Procurement differ between countries, there is lots of overlap. I have worked in multiple industries and currently work in the public sector having worked the previous 21 years in the private sector, so I understand that there are plenty of differences from one organisation to the next and from one sector to the next.

Thinking about my most recent experience in the UK public sector, I get the impression that we are more risk averse than some of our European colleagues and that rules are more stringently applied. I don’t believe that this is a result of the attitude of the buyer rather it is the increasingly litigious nature of the supplier base who, emboldened by European remedies directive, are more willing to test that processes have been properly applied if they fail to win business.

Having said that, I don’t always think that this is a problem, we should ensure that public money is always spent in a fair and transparent way. I would just prefer a more commercial and flexible approach that achieved great outcomes whilst protecting public money.

Procurious: Do you know how many other procurement professionals are in your country?

Paul: No. There are many thousands (probably hundreds of thousands). It is becoming increasingly difficult to define where procurement ends and where the rest of the business begins. I know of many CIPS qualified people who do procurement work but are not in the procurement department and don’t have it in their job title.

Procurious: Are you usually an early adopter? (Perhaps you’ve been a “first mover” with something else…)

Paul: I guess so. I like technology and have always been interested in social networks. I think I ran one of the first e-auctions in the UK when the electricity market was being deregulated in the early 90s.

I am great believer in how technology will transform business and believe that we’ve hardly begun to see the impact on procurement.

Procurious: Why did you join our network?

Paul: As I said I am particularly interested in social networks and one aimed at my profession is of real interest to me.

How did you find out about Procurious?

Paul: I think I read about it in Supply Management. I guess you got a few new users via that article.

Procurious: What are you hoping to get out of the network?

Paul: There is real value in sharing knowledge and connecting with good people and I hope that the network will help me to do that. 

Procurious: Are you going to invite your peers?

Paul: I already have and a number have signed up.

Meet our other #firstmovers:
Harold (Hal) Good
Farshad Bahmed
Sergio Giordano

Never say “game over”

The electrical equipment manufacturer Cressall has shared this inspirational story of Simon Marston with us, and how he managed to bring an almost-forgotten technology back to life.

Virtuality machine by Simon Marston

Some technologies never take off. It’s the way of the world. Whatever happened, for example, to hovercrafts – the favourite transportation method of Sir Sean Connery’s James Bond? The technology world is full of inventions that never made it big, often because they were too ahead of their time. Take the example of the Leicester-manufactured Virtuality machine, a precursor of the Oculus Rift.

For all the nostalgics out there, Simon has restored two Virtuality machines and made them available to the general public. One of the machines can be seen at the Retro Computer Museum in Leicester (UK).

In the early 90s, the main purpose of the Virtuality technology, was gaming; amazing, never-before-seen video games that allowed you to completely immerse yourself in a fictional universe. The machine completely captured Simon’s imagination during his days at college.

Years later, when Simon had the opportunity to purchase his own VR machine, he just couldn’t resist it. He spent months chasing long-lost information and invested significant financial resources to make his VR 1000 series functional again. At first, he tried to find the necessary information online, but to no avail. While some people seemed to remember the technology, none had insight about its internal workings.

The main problem was caused by the old screens, which were broken and couldn’t be replaced, because they were obsolete. Simon decided the best solution was to convert video signals from the VR machine into a new generation screen. His attempt was successful, meaning he could once again play some of his favourite arcade games.

So what is the purpose of this quest? Simon’s love of retro technology and his understanding of how people react to it are only two of the reasons he refused to believe the game was over for Virtuality, when most people had all but forgotten about it.

Follow Simon’s example and seize every opportunity – never let your dreams die, instead make them a living, breathing, reality.

How to build your Procurious network quickly and easily

Build your network on Procurious.com

Visit Procurious.com today and you might notice something new… We’ve introduced a number of big changes that will both help you build your network – and grow Procurious in the same breath.

One of the most popular asks has been invites by email – before, you were limited to just approaching those on LinkedIn (not ideal). We’re pleased to announce that you are now able to invite your colleagues and peers directly via email. Plus we’ve added the ability to sort and filter your LinkedIn contacts.

To get started, just click the big green ‘Build Your Network’ button – you can find this in the same place, across every page on the site.

Let’s run through the tools on offer:

Search LinkedIn on Procurious

Filter your LinkedIn contacts

‘Invite via LinkedIn’ works just as before – only this time you are able to search on the fly and filter people with just a couple of key presses.

Note: any contacts already a part of your Procurious network are easily identified by a green Procurious icon.

Below the search area you are able to customize a message to send to the contacts you wish to invite.

Invite contacts to Procurious by email

Invite via email

We expect this to be a popular addition to the site!

Click the ‘Invite by email’ button to begin writing a message to those contacts not on LinkedIn. Just enter your friend’s email address in the box specified (remembering to separate each one with a comma). Hit ‘Send invitations’ when done.

Filter your contacts

More powerful networking 

The Build Your Network page has also had a overhaul.

Now you are able to view the entire Procurious network, and filter members by country, industry, and category.

When you find a member you want to add to your network, click ‘Add to network’, then sit back and wait for them to accept.

Share a personal invite

If you don’t want to use any of the aforementioned invitation methods then why not send a personalized link to Procurious instead?

Just copy the link provided and share it via a method of your choosing (Twitter, Facebook, G+, personal email etc.)

One final thing…

We’ve tinkered around with member profiles – now when visiting a profile, the first thing you will see is the ‘My story’ page.  So we encourage you to fill this out and allow other members to learn a bit more about you.

Follow @Procurious_ on Twitter
Like Procurious on Facebook
Add us on Google+

Former U.S. President Clinton launches peanut supply chain in Haiti

Bill Clinton creates new peanut supply chain in Haiti. Image Wikipedia

Although we’re talking peanuts, there’s nothing nutty about our top story…. Also on our weekly smorgasbord, Coca Cola (and partners) look towards Africa, and a ruling by the FAA means Amazon’s drone delivery programme may never get off the ground…

A supply chain with no allergies

The former U.S. President – together with Canadian philanthropist Frank Giustra – have announced a new enterprise that will provide help to roughly 12,000 small farmers in Haiti.

It is hoped that the Acceso Peanut Enterprise Corporation will help to improve nut yields in coming years.

Clinton said the idea is to “empower farmers to meet the nutritional needs of people.” The project has potential to “scale up Haiti’s peanut supply chain to meet the growing regional demand for peanuts without relying on imports,” Giustra said.

Via Associated Press

Procurement Skills (Global)

  • In the second part of the summary of ‘Skills for the Modern Procurement Pro’, seven final skills have been identified by CPOs for procurement professionals
  • The full list totals 14 skills including Operational Procurement, Supply Risk Management and Leveraging Technology to Drive Business Value

Read more at CPO Rising

Making Procurement Work

  • Raconteur offers their top ten pointers for procurement professionals
  • Their infographic covers both the skills that procurement professionals should be focusing on, as well as tips on how to link corporate and procurement objectives

Read more at Raconteur

Innovation (Europe)

  • The Public Procurement of Innovation Platform has published an online guide to increase subject knowledge of innovation in public procurement
  • The guide is aimed at providing procedures, definitions, answers to common questions to enable stakeholders to engage in innovation in public procurement

Contract Audit (UK)

  • The UK National Audit Office (NAO) has questioned the early award of eight contracts worth £16.6bn for renewable energy projects
  • The NAO believe that the early award was unnecessary and may have cost UK taxpayers more in the long term

Medicine in Africa

  • Coca Cola and its partners, the US Agency for International Development, the Global Fund and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, plan to invest $21 million to get medicine to remote parts of Africa
  • The scheme provides support to government agencies managing the procurement and distribution of medicines and vaccines, from the private sector to forecast demand, ensure availability and maintain cold chain equipment

Read more at Supply Management


Procurement in the Cloud

  • Phillip Allouche, the Global Head of Procurement Solutions at Xchanging, provides some insights as to why procurement technology is moving to the Cloud
  • Amongst other benefits, CPOs are now seeing a significant reduction in the cost of hosting technology applications in the Cloud, alongside a reduction in risk

Read more at Cloud Computing Intelligence

Supply Chain Risk Management

  • 76% of organisations in a recent Accenture survey have identified supply chain risk management as either important or very important
  • The top three sources of risks were identified as information technology, cost and pricing factors and the global economy
  • Analysis revealed three tips for a high ROI in risk management as making risk management a priority, centralising responsibility for risk management and investing aggressively in risk management

Read more at Supply Chain 24/7 


People Management

  • Good managers will look beyond the ‘usual suspects’ when promoting internally or pulling task forces together
  • The article looks at how managers can expand their talent pool to get results and reduce ‘bottlenecks’ in resourcing

Read more at Harvard Business Review

Mobile Procurement

  • Organisations need to make sure that they are in a position to move into the international market before they do so
  • Mobile procurement platforms can be used to assist in this process and to connect with suppliers across borders

Read more at Spend Matters

Supply Chain Delivery

  • The FAA (USA) have officially clarified that the commercial use of drones is illegal, including for the delivery of packages for a fee
  • This may throw a spanner in the works of Amazon’s plans to use drones for deliveries around the US, as currently this would fall under these regulations

Read more at Mashable

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Sergio Giordano: How to successfully negotiate with an Italian? Play poker

Sergio Giordano reveals that the procurement profession in Italy is not your average Italian job…

Sergio has brought some much-needed Sicilian sunshine (not-to-mention a sense of infectious enthusiasm) to the Procurious network. With over 30 years of experience in industrial procurement, Sergio is now founder (and general manager) of ProcOut s.r.l.

You can read his full story here.

Our #firstmovers series profiles those members who we feel truly embody Procurious, and go to show just how “rich” and global our network is becoming.

Procurious asks: How do you think procurement differs in your country, as opposed to elsewhere in the world?

Sergio: Once Procurement in Italy was “emotional price negotiation” the Italian Procurement professional was one of the best negotiator in the world … but nothing else. Today in Italy things are partially changed, there are two distinctly separate worlds in procurement management

  1.  The large national and multinational companies in which the concept of Procurement has evolved (not just negotiating the price but the TCO, the knowledge of local and global market, management of the relationship with suppliers, the use of e-Procurement, Lean Procurement approach, etc…) they use the same “tools” and strategies of the most competitive and advanced European nations.
  2. SMEs (92% of the Italian companies …), in which almost nothing has changed in the way we manage procurement. In fact they follow two directions:
    1. Search for the Lowest price
    2. Trust to a single supplier without constant monitoring of market

Today, however, SMEs are realising that joining in network can help to become competitive to the market as large companies and things are changing also in the Procurement management.

However, in my opinion, one distinctive difference will always remain and it depends on our Latin nature, during the negotiations Italians tend to play “Poker” instead of “Bridge”…

Procurious: Do you know how many other procurement professionals are in your country?

Sergio: I have no idea.

Procurious: Are you usually an early adopter? (Perhaps you’ve been a “first mover” with something else…)

Sergio: Not usually, the choice depends heavily on the personal interest I have in the product or service and not just because it’s “new”, for example I think I was one of the first Italian Procurement Professionals to join Procurious! Right?

Procurious: Why did you join Procurious?

Sergio: Great place to exchange knowledge and experiences in particular between the old and the new generation of Procurement Professionals and, as Chantelle Genovezos said: “being in touch with the global Procurement community”!

Italian Sergio Giordano talks procurement and supply chains

Procurious: How did you find out about us?

Sergio: From an article on http://www.supplymanagement.com/
[
The now-infamous SupplyManagement article can be read here]

Procurious: What are you hoping to get out of the network?

Sergio: Expand my reputation but never stop to learn about Procurement from other people experiences

Procurious: Are you going to invite your peers?

Sergio: I’m doing my best to involve the entire Italian community of Procurement Professionals that I know…peers, LinkedIn contacts etc.

Many thanks to Sergio for taking time-out to answer our questions and for all his support so far.

If you would like to be considered for a future profile, please drop Matt Farrington Smith a line – he’d love to hear from you! (Bribes may or may not be encouraged…)

Meet our other #firstmovers:
Harold (Hal) Good
Farshad Bahmed

How to develop your skills in just 5 minutes

Ahead of some fairly-sizeable changes to Procurious next week, we thought we’d take a moment to highlight some of the smaller things that might have passed you by.

Learning resources

Have you seen what’s behind the ‘Learning’ menu?

There are two different types of learning material available on Procurious. Free and paid. You’ll be able to immediately differentiate between the two – as all paid videos will clearly display their price upfront.

However, all paid videos offer a short 30 second sampler (so you can see what you’re getting before you commit).

From the Learning homepage simply select a video of your choosing

Watch training videos on Procurious

Click the ‘Free enrol now’ button to add the selected video to your basket and unlock all the lessons associated with it.

Should you select a paid video instead, you’ll see a ‘Add this class to cart’ button.

If a video is made-up of multiple parts (or lessons), you’ll see the contents of the video in the handy ‘Lesson tree’ to the left of the player.

Discussions on ProcuriousDiscussions

Discussions can be accessed from the ‘Discussions’ button on the main navigation – you’ll also see the latest conversations appear to the right of your ‘Community’ feed too.

We’re working making the hottest topics even more discoverable around the site, but it’s encouraging to see that more and more of you are getting involved!

Twitter

Did you know that we’re also on Twitter?

You can find Procurious tweeting regularly, so head on over and follow @procurious_ for all the latest.

Supply chains need to take action to fight ‘fast fashion’

Young women working in a sweat shop

The fast fashion dilemma

The move toward ‘fast fashion’ is putting major pressure on those working in the procurement departments.

Fashion can cycle in and out of retail stores across the globe in a matter of weeks; putting those in procurement under constant pressure to ensure their supply chain is clean.

For many professionals working in this field, it’s a perpetual battle to balance the insatiable appetite for the latest dirt-cheap fashion with the constant demand that retailers stop the rag trade. Though perhaps not surprisingly, it’s pretty much impossible to find anyone willing to go on the record about how they tackle this issue to ensure their fast fashion supply chain is clean.

There are industry whispers that many procurement missions to places like China can result in more questions than answers. Often, a myriad of ‘agents’ acting on behalf of other sections of the supply chain make it extremely difficult for those in procurement to truly understand who they’re hiring, and whether they’re the sort of ethical supplier you’re hoping for.

This cry for help was found sewed into a Primark garment earlier this week.
This cry for help was found sewed into a Primark garment earlier this week. Darren Britton/Wales News Service

Most recently in Australia, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission issued a warning about a dangerous dye found in jeans on sale in Australian stores.

Tests uncovered clothes with high concentration of the dyes, which sparked recalls of more than 121,000 items from retailers including Myer, Target, Rivers, Trade Secret and Just Jeans. A number of children’s clothes, including jeans from Myer, Just Jeans and Target, were included in the recall.

This situation will no doubt have caused major headaches for someone working in procurement, somewhere along the line. It’s also an example of why it’s so important for those in procurement to know where and how garments are being made.

After all, it doesn’t take much more than a few questions to be asked and some information to be shared on social media for a major brand to cop a beating over a supplier that’s possibly a long way down the supply chain.

However, some of the big brands have been working hard to clean up their act.

H&M, which is now in Australia, wants to prove to consumers that it’s doing the right thing. According to media reports, H&M has put a plan in place to avoid sourcing fabrics from endangered forest and also promote the use of fabrics that come from Forest Stewardship Council certified plantations. The company will also work to build traceable and sustainable production of these fabrics in its own supply chain.

For other major brands, the answer lies in innovation.

Stephen Denning, supply chain expert and author of the book Radical Management says brands like Zara have solved the problem of how to get disciplined execution with continuous innovation. “The way they lay out their factories, the design team is right in the middle of the factory, so that the whole process of learning from the manufacturers and vice versa is horizontal,” Denning was quoted as saying in The Business of Fashion.

People of Procurious, where do you stand on this “fast fashion” fixation? Make your voice heard and  leave your comments below.

What’s it like to be a procurement professional in Dubai? Farshad Bahmed speaks

Ladies and gentlemen please be upstanding for Farshad Bahmed.

Our #firstmovers series profiles those members who we feel truly embody Procurious, and go to show just how “rich” and global our network is becoming.

Farshad is a senior consultant for A.T. Kearney, and works out of Dubai. You can find out more about him – here.

Farshad Bahmed speaks of strong demand for procurement professionals in GCC countries
Farshad Bahmed speaks of strong demand for procurement professionals in GCC countries. Look at him go!

Procurious asks: How do you think procurement differs in your country, as opposed to elsewhere in the world?

Farshad: I work mostly for clients in the GCC. As opposed to other parts of the world, especially EU and US, the Procurement functions here are still in a developing phase. That’s why quite a lot of focus is on developing the internal capabilities i.e., people, processes, etc., Obviously driving cost savings is expected from any Procurement function and hence strategic sourcing programs are also picking up very fast.

Overall, I believe organizations in GCC are realizing the value of Procurement beyond their operational work and depending on them to create value in terms of cost savings, innovation, product development and other critical value generating areas.

Procurious: Do you know how many other procurement professionals are in your country? 

Farshad: The demand for Procurement professionals is immense in GCC partly owing to the fact that very few academic programs cater to Supply Chain / Procurement in this region and hence there is still a lot of dependency for “importing” this critical skill set from outside the region.

The Procurement teams are growing and becoming more influential, which is good news for the profession.

Procurious: Are you usually an early adopter? (Perhaps you’ve been a “first mover” with something else…)

Farshad: I work mostly for other companies (my clients) on Procurement consulting projects and usually “adoption” of global best practices has been a little delayed. But as I mentioned earlier, organizations are now waking up to the importance of having an efficient and effective Procurement function. And the fact that I can help different companies in their journey towards Procurement excellence gives me a lot of satisfaction.

Procurious: Why did you join Procurious?

Farshad: Procurious attracted me as it is probably the first genuine social network for Procurement professionals.

I believe it is important for Procurement as a profession to create a strong identity and social networks such as Procurious can go a long way in helping popularize Procurement and help it get the deserved due credit.

Procurious: How did you find out about us?

Farshad: I am a frequent reader of Supply Management (both the website and magazine) and this is where I got to know about Procurious.

Procurious: What are you hoping to get out of the network?

Farshad: Connecting with other like-minded Procurement professionals, share and learn more about the profession and contribute in any way I can to market this interesting profession further.

Procurious: And finally, are you going to invite your peers?

Farshad: I will try in a personal capacity.

Many thanks to Farshad for contributing and answering our questions.

If you would like to be considered for a future profile, please drop Matt Farrington Smith a line – he’d love to hear from you! (Bribes may or may not be encouraged…)

Meet our other #firstmovers:
Harold (Hal) Good